Women can turn the tide on inequality at the ballot box



August 28, 2018 - 9:20 AM

It passed under our radar, but Sunday was officially Women’s Equality Day, to mark, in part, the granting of women the right to vote just 88 years ago with passage of the 19th Amendment.
It took 42 years for Congress to confer this privilege on women. It’s ironic that  while some men glibly refer to their wives as their “better halves,” they feel comfortable regarding them as inferior in regards to understanding politics, or deserving of equal pay or qualifying for  positions of leadership.
The trouble with women is that they don’t make a big deal about these inequalities. In typical fashion — perhaps because for their entire lives they’ve been led to believe they are inferior — they soldier on.
As proof, the Equal Rights Amendment has yet to be made into law, 46 years after its introduction. The Amendment  would fight sex discrimination by including wage parity guarantees to women as well as equal treatment in cases of divorce and property settlements.
The holdup? Though approved by Congress in 1972, the Amendment requires the ratification of three-fourths of state legislatures. This past May, Illinois became the 37th state to give its stamp of approval. Still holding out are the legislatures of primarily the southeastern states. Kansas, thankfully, was one of 22 states to ratify the ERA when it was introduced in 1972.
Only one more state’s stamp of approval is necessary for the ERA to become law.
Legal experts warn that if that bridge is crossed we can expect stiff opposition by conservatives.

THE OPPORTUNITY for women to turn the tide on such groupthink comes every two years at the ballot box.
Since 1980, the percent of eligible female voters going to the polls has outpaced that of men, according to the Center for Women and Politics.
Seniors, those age 65 to 74, are the most active voters among men and women, with more than 72 percent of eligible voters participating in the 2016 election, followed closely by those either just younger or older.
Less than half of young voters, those age 18 to 24, voted in the 2016 presidential election.
In non-presidential elections such as this year’s, the number of voters drops to about 40 percent, clearly an opportunity to drum up not only the female vote, but also that of younger generations who, typically, side with such issues as paid maternity leave (why does the United States punish young parents?), public education and social welfare programs.
It’s crucial that these demographics become better educated about which candidates share their opinions on gun control, a woman’s reproductive rights, wage inequality, funding for public schools, health care, and a host of other issues.
One place to start is the nonpartisan League of Women Voters, whose mission is to increase voter registration and educate citizens about current issues, candidates and legislation.
The more educated the voter, the better represented the public.
— Susan Lynn


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